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Search Ads – Advertise on the App Store

Search Ads – Advertise on the App Store

It’s finally arrived!

Something that’s been missing from the App Store for the best part of a decade has now landed. Search Ads are here and they’re Apple’s version of Google’s pay-per-click (PPC). They let you advertise directly on the App Store so your mobile app appears right at the top of the search results!

Anyone who’s released their app on the App Store knows it is very hard to get found. With over 1.5 million apps available getting noticed in such a large crowd can be daunting. Especially in the post-app boom world where people have become much more reluctant to download apps than they were when apps were the latest thing. No matter, users often spend an average of 87% of their time using apps, however you may be surprised to know that the average user only downloads 1 app per month (source).

This is not intended to be a full dissection of the platform but just a quick overview of the key features of what promises to be an integral part of the App Store and your journey to success.

So how does it work?

Apple have developed a “Search Match” algorithm which matches apps based on the metadata provided by the developers. Metadata is the information surrounding your app like the title, keywords and description, enabling the App Store to connect your application to a potential search. This means that Apple will decide when it’s appropriate to show your app at the top based on the likelihood of the user downloading it. This in turn gives a much higher success rate in getting your app downloaded.

App Store Search Ads Example

As you can see from the image on the right, when searching for “Watermark” we are presented with the usual search results but right at the top before the organic results we see a promoted app shown in the same way a search is shown on top of Google. This is a paid ad which is served to users based on the match between their search term and the app metadata you’ve provided.

Apple charges on a CPI (cost per install) basis and the cost is based on the competition for the ad placement, mimicking how bidding works on Google’s AdWords platform.

The platform

The primary difference between App Store advertising and Google Adwords is that the ad content is auto-generated based on your app metadata. You have the ability to include negative keywords in the same way you can with Google to help reduce the non-relevant impressions, helping you hone and target the users you need.

Budget capping is another key feature which allows you to set both a campaign limit and a daily limit giving you full control over your spend without the risk of the costs spiralling out of control.

Reporting, possibly the most important feature for any advertising campaign is also built-in and gives you full analytical insight into the performance of your campaigns and the ability to tweak the campaign in response to this data. The best way to approach this is using trial and error, measuring the figures as you go which help you increase the effectiveness of your campaign.

The verdict

We think Search Ads is a vital piece of the App Store puzzle which has been been missing for far too long. We are glad to see Apple have finally implemented this key feature and we look forward to seeing how the platform evolves.

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